The Ledes

Monday, October 20, 2014.

New York Times: "Escalating its assistance to Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State in the Syrian town of Kobani, American military aircraft on Sunday dropped ammunition, small arms and medical supplies to resupply the combatants, officials said."

The Wires

The Ledes

Sunday, October 19, 2014.

Guardian: "A cruise ship carrying a Dallas healthcare worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to port on Sunday.... A lab supervisor who handled a specimen from Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died from Ebola in Dallas on 8 October, showed no symptoms during the cruise but self-quarantined out of caution. Carnival Cruise Lines told passengers the unidentified woman was tested for Ebola but the results were negative."

Public Service Announcement

Washington Post, September 17: "Artificial sweeteners might be triggering higher blood-sugar levels in some people and contributing to the problems they were designed to combat, such as diabetes and obesity, according to new findings published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

New York Times, September 1: "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study [financed by the N.I.H.] shows."

White House Live Video
October 17

11:50 am ET: President Obama speaks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

1:00 pm ET: Josh Earnest's press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

No Surprise Here. Valerie Tarico of AlterNet, in Salon: "... online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states."

Jeffrey Frank reviews, for the New Yorker, a new biography of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith. The review is fairly entertaining & informative.

Michael Cieply of the New York Times: "... several of the companies behind 'Citizenfour' — which takes issue with Mr. Obama’s expansion of Bush-era surveillance, and his administration’s attempt to prosecute [Edward] Snowden for espionage — are led by some of the president’s close political allies. They include Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein Company’s co-chairman, as well as Jeff Skoll, the founder of Participant Media, and Richard Plepler, the chief executive of HBO, who all have been major contributors to Mr. Obama’s political campaigns."

Washington Post: "President Obama's credit card was rejected last month at a restaurant in New York. 'I went to a restaurant up in New York when I was -- during the U.N. General Assembly, and my credit card was rejected,' Obama said Friday while signing an executive order to protect consumers from identity theft. 'It turned out I guess I don’t use it enough. They were -- they thought there was some fraud going on. Fortunately, Michelle had hers.'"

"Who's Gonna Stand Up & Save the Earth?" Not Stephen Colbert:

Novelist John Grisham recants his apologia for child porn. Good to know.

Unsolved Mystery. Washington Post: "Human remains recently exhumed from an Alabama grave are not those of the notorious fugitive William Bradford Bishop, who is accused of killing five family members with a small sledgehammer in Montgomery County in 1976 and setting their bodies on fire, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. The FBI said that DNA taken from the unidentified body in Scottsboro, Ala., on Oct. 9 did not match Bishop, who is a member of the Ten Most Wanted list." Original story further down this column. Thanks to Haley S. for the lead.

New York Times: "CBS announced a new subscription Internet streaming service on Thursday that allows people to watch its live television programming and thousands of its current and past shows on demand without paying for a traditional TV subscription. The new 'CBS All Access' service, costing $5.99 a month, is the first time that a traditional broadcaster will make a near-continuous live feed of its local stations available over the web to non-pay-TV subscribers. At its start, the live stream will be available in 14 markets in the United States." ...

... New York Times: "HBO announced Wednesday that it would start a stand-alone Internet streaming service in the United States in 2015 that would not require a subscription to a traditional television service, a move that intensifies the premium cable network’s growing rivalry with Netflix. Just hours after HBO unveiled plans for its new service, Netflix announced that its subscriber growth was slower than expected...."

Joe Coscarelli of New York: "Following its initial mercy killing at the hands of Jon Stewart, Crossfire was rebooted last year with Newt Gingrich and Van Jones to dismal returns..., CNN ... scrapped it for good today [October 15] so that Newt can spend more time with his animals — and hopefully run for president again."

Joe Concha of Mediaite: "A well-placed source tells me MSNBC will be announcing major programming changes sometime in the next month, including the cancellation of Ronan Farrow‘s afternoon program, Ronan Farrow Daily." CW: I've caught a few minutes of Farrow's show a couple of times, & it was clear the guy was in way over his head. His performance was as embarrassing as the Russert kid's, though he isn't an obnoxious bro in the Russert-kid mold. I'm not sure if the suits will ever figure out that legacies & children-of-famous-people are usually not the best & brightest, perhaps because a lot of the suits themselves are legacies.

Philip Shenon in Politico Magazine: "If even Robert Kennedy was a conspiracy theorist, it is hard to see how millions of other Americans will ever be convinced to accept that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "MSNBC has seen its ratings hit one of the deepest skids in its history, with the recently completed third quarter of 2014 generating some record lows."

Snowden, The Movie:

... AND, Snowden's girlfriend is living with him in a Moscow apartment. David Harding of the New York Daily News: "His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, moved into his apartment in the Russian capital in July, a detail that was revealed in the new documentary, 'Citizenfour.'” ...

... George Packer of the New Yorker on Laura Poitras & making the film "Citizenfour." ...

... Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times discusses the film. He attended the premiere at the New York Film Festival, where the documentary got a rare standing O. CW: I'm kinda sensing that "Citizenfour" can best be described as "documentary as hagiography." And, yes, I'm definitely seeing an Oscar here. Call me an oracle.

 

 

A video for Marco I'm-Not-a-Scientist-Man Rubio & Bobby I'm-Not-an-Evolutionary-Biologist Jindal, & all their non-scientist Republican friends:

Selina Gray, on right, saved Arlington House treasures during the Civil War.Michael Ruane of the Washington Post: "When Robert E. Lee’s wife, Mary, fled Arlington House at the start of the Civil War, she gave her personal slave, Selina Norris Gray, the keys to the mansion and responsibility for the grand house the Lees had lived in for 30 years. Gray fulfilled her duties. She is famously credited with saving from marauding Union soldiers numerous heirlooms belonging to George Washington that were stored in the house. Now the National Park Service, which administers Arlington House, has acquired what it says is a rare and previously unknown photograph of Gray and, apparently, two of her eight children."

"An FBI wanted poster shows William Bradford Bishop Jr. The image on the left shows how Bishop would look now. (Getty)"Dan Morse of the Washington Post: "For nearly 40 years, the legend of Bethesda fugitive William Bradford Bishop Jr. carried an air of not just evil brutality but refined sophistication. This was a man suspected of killing his family with a small sledgehammer in 1976 and setting their corpses on fire. Then he vanished, taking with him fluency in five languages, the experience of a world traveler for the State Department, and a fondness for playing tennis, flying airplanes and drinking Scotch. There were alleged sightings: a public park in Stockholm, a restroom in Sorrento, Italy, a train station in Basel, Switzerland. Now, in a potentiality stunning development in the case — centered in a municipally owned cemetery in the northeastern corner of Alabama — remains that were exhumed Thursday may tell a different story. Bishop could be the heretofore unidentified man called John Doe, who was struck by a car while walking down a highway in 1981, a person who appeared to be homeless, who’d worn several layers of heavy, dirty clothes and weighed just 155 pounds." ...

... CW: If you like mysteries & enjoy reading about how they're unravelled, you should find this a compelling story.

Christopher Schmidt says, "On Oct 8th, I was flying my quadcopter at Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] when a hawk decided he wasn't too happy with my invasion of his airspace:

... CW: Thanks to Julie L. for the link. So one way to get rid of those annoying drones that will soon be hovering in your air space is to take up falconry. (Since bringing down other people's drones may be illegal, blame the bird.)

"Drones & Everything After." Benjamin Wallace-Wells of New York: "Drones are a different kind of new technology from what we’re used to. The communications breakthroughs of the past two decades have multiplied the connections within society, but drones offer something else: the conquest of physical space, the extension of society’s compass, the ability to be anywhere and see anything. This physical presence can be creepy when seen from the ground, in ways that echo the imaginings of science fiction." ...

... Ava Lubell of Slate: "Reports of man-on-drone violence are on the rise, with landowners claiming that unauthorized flying of small, noncommercial drones (sometimes with cameras) in the air above their land violates property rights. This past week, a man in New Jersey riddled a drone flying over his home full of bullets. He was arrested on unlawful weapons charges. When it comes to air rights, it’s not exactly clear who owns what.... Just because someone owns the dirt does not mean he owns the sky."

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Friday
Jun012012

The Commentariat -- June 2, 2012

The President's Weekly Address:

     ... The transcript is here. Guardian story here.

Digby has a terrific post in Mother Jones on the modern history of Jim Crow-type voter suppression and how the Democrats have been letting Republicans get away with it, even after the 2000 election travesty in which the Florida tally was a direct result of Jeb Bush's suppression of eligible Florida voters. ...

... Charles Blow covers the most of the same material, but it bears repeating. See also yesterday's News Ledes.

Daniel Gross of Yahoo! News found quite a bit of good and not-so-bad news in yesterday's economic numbers. ...

... Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times: "The odds surely increased Friday that the Federal Reserve will ride again to the rescue of the faltering economic recovery, making borrowing a little cheaper for a little longer, as it has done repeatedly over the last four years."

** Fire Eric Holder. Joe Nocera: "... the Justice Department has ... taken after the smallest of small fry [in the national mortgage fraud debacle] -- and then trumpeted those prosecutions as proof of how tough it is on mortgage fraud. It is a shameful way for the government to act." The DOJ was willing to spends tens of millions prosecuting John Edwards for hiding his mistress, "Yet this same Justice Department isn't willing to use similar resources ... to go after the pervasive corporate wrongdoing that gave us the financial crisis and the Great Recession.... George W. Bush has turned out to be tougher on corporate crooks than Barack Obama." ...

... Sari Horwitz & Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post report on how the Obama Justice Department got on board the John Edwards case, an effort begun by George Holding, a Bush holdover prosecutor who is now running for Congress as a Republican. Includes video of three jurors speaking to Matt Lauer on yesterday's "Today Show."

Riding in Cars with Candidates. Gail Collins: "... somehow, the public realized that [John Edwards] who looked so good and sounded so glib was really a fraud. Even without knowing about the secret love child or the sleazy right-hand man, or the impressive ability to stare right into a TV camera and lie like a rug, they got his number and picked other people to run for president. Voters' gut instincts are generally pretty good. They certainly were with John Edwards. Which is, in a way, a happy ending to an awful story."

Dan Amira of New York magazine: "Good news. People eat other people on a pretty regular basis." See also today's News Ledes.

Presidential Race

The MSM are beginning to fact-check Willard:

     ... Jake Tapper of ABC News: "Yesterday in California, Mitt Romney stood in front of the failed Solyndra factory and said 'an independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the administration had steered money to friends and family, to campaign contributors.' In a TV ad focused on Solyndra, the Romney campaign makes a similar claim, saying the 'Inspector General said that contracts were steered to friends and family.' This isn't true. [blah blah]... That isn't correct. [blah blah]... The charge is simply false." ...

     ... AP: "Mitt Romney ... didn't get the story completely straight when he accused the administration of favoring 'cronies.'" ...

... BUT. Media Matters: "Economic experts agree that spending cuts in a weak economy hurt the creation of jobs and economic growth. Though Republicans in Congress spent much of 2011 demanding spending cuts, the media are amplifying their attacks on President Obama's economic record."

... Ha Ha. Simon van Zuylen-Wood of The New Republic: even as Willard has been hammering Obama on Solyndra & green energy loans & promising to abolish the entire DOE loan program, "a surprising dissent can be found in Ohio Senator Rob Portman [R], often mentioned as a potential [Romney] running mate, who has sponsored a bill that would expand the program. And since he assumed office, in 2010, Portman has relentlessly badgered Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve a guarantee four times larger than Solyndra's for a teetering Ohio nuclear facility. Can the GOP handle a potential veep who seems A-OK with such innovation-killing 'government overreach'?"

** Andrew Miga of the AP: "With a few strokes of his pen on a sleepy holiday six months after he became governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney quietly scuttled the state government's long-standing affirmative action policies.... When civil rights leaders, black lawmakers and other minority groups finally learned of Romney's move two months later, it sparked a public furor." CW: Read the whole story.

Julie Davis of Bloomberg News: "Romney ... doesn't intend to offer targeted relief for the 11.5 million American homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, [Romney's policy adviser] said, suggesting that such actions are temporary fixes insufficient to stabilize the housing market. 'Governor Romney has indicated that there are some steps we ought to take to ensure that we're growing our economy.... I do think we have to resist the temptation for short-term approaches.'" CW: Remember when Romney said, "Don't try and stop the foreclosure process"? He meant it.

It's Friday, so time for another installment of Steve Benen's epic WIP, Mitt's Mendacity, which is now in Vol. XX, & lists Willard's 18 Whoppers of the Week.

AND Mitt is still rich. His financial disclosure statements are here.

With Friends Like These.... Frankly, the Romney people did the only thing they could. They used their strengths -- which were money and the super PAC and a willingness to go after me very aggressively -- to offset my strength, which was an ability to define a larger, better future. It's not bad to say [Romney] has proven he will do what it takes to beat Obama. It's the nature of our current political culture that cynicism trumps idealism. -- Newt Gingrich, newly-minted Romney surrogate

With Friends Like These.... Rodney Hawkins of CBS News: "Former President Bill Clinton, seeking to contain the political damage from his earlier praise of Mitt Romney's 'sterling' business background, said on Friday that his remarks shouldn't be construed as an endorsement." CW: Clinton's remarks about Romney are, for me, just another of many reminders of what a lousy, right-wing president Clinton was. ...

... Tim Mak of Politico: "Mitt Romney on Friday thanked former president Bill Clinton for complimenting his work at Bain Capital, saying he was 'happy to see President Clinton … called my record superb.'" ...

... Karoli of Crooks & Liars has a good take on Clinton's sterling remark: "Once again, a surrogate steps all over the campaign message in order to praise ... Bain Capital? And not just any surrogate, either. Bill Clinton, who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall into law, which is ultimately responsible for the 2008 meltdown on Wall Street. That very same Bill Clinton."

** Steve Benen nails Congressional Republicans for causing the near-zero jobs growth: "As panic sets in after [Friday]'s brutal jobs report, take a moment to consider a hypothetical: what would the economy look like today if Congress had followed Obama's lead, responded to public-opinion polls, and passed the American Jobs Act? In 2012, do you think the nation could use those 1.3 million jobs or not?." CW: Obama kinda sorta said this yesterday & has done a slightly better job of it in his weekly address. But he needs to really lay it out -- then present a full-fledged program of what Congress should do instead of campaigning on this nitpicking Congressional "honey-do" list.

... Bernie Becker of The Hill: At a committee hearing, "A top House Democrat slammed Jeb Bush on Friday for criticizing President Obama's economic policies while not condemning those of his brother, former President George W. Bush. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, noted that hundreds of thousands of Americans were losing their jobs in the months before former President Bush left office in 2009, and said Bush's policies tipped the scales toward the wealthy and Wall Street."

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: President Obama told a group of Minnesota donors that he thinks Republicans will get more reasonable after the election since he won't be running for re-election & they'll start being cooperative. CW: He said this in the state that brought us Michele Bachmann.

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "The Fox News producer behind a provocative four-minute anti-Obama video that aired Wednesday and caused the network considerable embarrassment has found his career on ice. The producer, Chris White, had been offered a job by CNN before the video was broadcast. But on Thursday, a CNN spokeswoman said that the network would not be hiring him." ...

... BUT. Here's a surprise. Alex Alvarez of Mediaite: "Chris White ... will remain at Fox News." He did something terrible for which he was "not authorized," but we're keeping him on anyway. See links in the May 31 Commentariat. ...

... John Hudson of the Atlantic, who must be dumb as a post, said the video below, produced by an outside entity and aired in February on Chris Matthews' show -- which is commentary, not news -- was just like Fox "News"'s "factual" hit job on President Obama. Anyway, the video is humorous:

... Meanwhile, a much smarter guy at the Atlantic -- Jim Fallows -- republishes John Sides' charts tracking positive & negative MSM coverage of Obama & Romney. "Main point: At no time in the past year has coverage of President Obama been as positive as that of Governor Romney. Indeed, at no time in the past year has it been on-balance positive at all."

Local News

President Clinton stumps for Barrett:

An outtake from Thursday's gubernatorial debate in Wisconsin. (I looked for video of the full debate yesterday and couldn't find it -- but the audio is here):

... Charles Pierce comments on the debate.

News Ledes

Boston Globe: "After building questions about the durability of her Senate candidacy, Elizabeth Warren displayed brute strength today by winning the endorsement of 96 percent of delegates to the state Democratic convention and blocking potential opponent Marisa DeFranco from the party's primary ballot. The win allows Warren to instead focus on Republican Senator Scott Brown in the general election."

Guardian: "The Queen has kicked off the first major event of her diamond jubilee weekend, driving on to Epsom racecourse before the Derby to be greeted by 130,000 enthusiastic racegoers. Fans in the stands gave the monarch and Duke of Edinburgh a huge cheer as they were driven down the course past the hospitality tents."

New York Times: "An Egyptian judge on Saturday sentenced former President Hosni Mubarak to life in prison for the killing of unarmed demonstrators during protests that ended his rule.... His interior minister, Habib el-Adly, was sentenced to life for the same reason, but the charges against other Interior Ministry officials were dismissed. The judge also dismissed the bribery charges against Mr. Mubarak and his sons, concluding that the statute of limitations had lapsed." ...

... Reuters: "Deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarakand other defendants standing trial with him must be retried with solid evidence, the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement issued on Saturday by the campaign of its presidential candidate."

AP: "The U.N.'s top human rights official said Saturday that there should be no amnesty for serious crimes committed in Syria, even if the threat of prosecution might motivate members of the regime to cling to power at all costs."

AP: "Two female foreign aid workers and their two Afghan colleagues were rescued in a pre-dawn raid Saturday after being held by militants for 11 days in a cave in northern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led military coalition said. The women -- Helen Johnston and Moragwe Oirere -- and the two Afghans were kidnapped on May 22 in Badakhshan province. The four work for Medair, a humanitarian non-governmental organization based near Lausanne, Switzerland."

AP: "The credibility of Trayvon Martin's shooter could be an issue at trial after a judge said that George Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances to obtain a bond, legal experts say. That's because the case hinges on jurors believing his account of what happened the night the 19-year-old was killed."

AP: "For more than 50 years, the New York Mets chased that elusive no-hitter. Johan Santana finally finished the job. Santana pitched the first no-hitter in team history, helped by an umpire's missed call and an outstanding catch in left field in an 8-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night." New York Times story here. And a banner headline in the New York Daily News online edition, natch.

Weird "News." New York Daily News: "With fears of a possible 'Zombie Apocalypse' growing, the feds have been forced to deny that the undead are real. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made it clear in a statement that flesh-eating, undead creatures definitely don't exist. 'CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms),' CDC spokesman David Daigle wrote to the Huffington Post on Thursday."

Thursday
May312012

The Commentariat -- June 1, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on David Brooks' column explaining the cause of the euro-crisis. The NYTX front page is here.

Quote of the Day. In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children? -- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, responding to news that when he was archbishop of Milwaukee, Cardinal Timothy Dolan paid off pedophile priests to leave the priesthood

Paul Krugman explains to shut-ins the pitfall of austerity fiscal policies during a recession, then illuminates the ulterior motive behind austerity measures.

Irin Carmon of Salon explains Trent Frank's disgusting sex-selection bill, which was defeated in the House yesterday only because it was brought up under rules which require a two-thirds majority vote. CW: the way I see it: more than half of the members of the House of Representative are sociopathic, misogynistic monsters.

Ken Vogel of Politico on "aggrieved mega-donors" who seriously resent our making them the butt of jokes and other, worser stuff. Dr. CW: One of the symptoms of Billionaires Acquired Disease (BAD): a remarkably thin skin.

Presidential Race

Glenn Thrush & Josh Boak of Politico: "Renewed concerns about the global recovery, compounded by the slow-motion fiscal train wreck in Europe, a slowdown in China and Friday's Dow sell-off that put the index in negative territory for the year have seriously undercuts Obama's main reelection strategy: Making the race a referendum on Romney."

I'd like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birth place of the president being set by the Constitution, I'd like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States. -- Mitt Romney, on Tuesday ...

... "The Wrong Résumé." Tim Egan: "... history shows that time in the money trade is more often than not a prelude to a disastrous presidency. The less experience in business, the better the president."

Jim VandeHei & Mike Allen of Politico: the librul media are picking on Mitt & Ann Romney while giving the Obamas a pass. CW: In this piece, VandeHei & Allen pretend they are just reporters here & not actual scribes for the vast right-wing conspiracy. ...

... I see Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine agrees with me: "Brownnosing Politico A-team Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei have a real gem today [Thursday] called 'To GOP, blatant bias in vetting,' in which they allow Republicans to once again essentially ask: If our nation's newspapers love Barack Obama so much, why don't they marry him?" Coscarelli adds, "Nevermind that Politico covered the hell out of the Romney bullying story, too, while largely ignoring Obama's marijuana fandom, which has come up before and never resulted in anything resembling a hate crime." ...

... The New York Times' front-page Ann Romney story, which has drawn GOP complaints, is here. This is the first time I've linked it. I read it, and it doesn't appear to be a hit job, just a slice of the lives of the rich & famous -- which happens to involve lawsuits. The only part I thought made Mrs. Romney look bad came from her own deposition testimony, where she stereotyped Germans. ...

... ** Paul Waldman of American Prospect notes that "the 'liberal bias' complaint never gets old.... VandeHei and Allen's article is a masterpiece of unsupported claims, false equivalences, speculations about what news stories 'imply,' and Republican complaints taken not as complaints but as truths.... This article is really a triumph for conservatives and their strategy of working the refs. But it also shows how thin the evidence is when someone tries to make the case." ...

... John Sides of the Monkey Cage: "The Project for Excellence in Journalism [has found] ... that every point in the past 10 months, Obama has received more negative coverage than positive coverage. The tone of Romney coverage has shifted depending on primary campaign events, but, as of the end of April, positive coverage still outweighed negative coverage. At that point, Romney received about as much positive coverage as Obama received negative coverage."

Heather Hurlburt of the Guardian: "Mitt Romney's sabre-rattling on Syria signifies nothing." ...

... Maeve Reston & Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times: "Mitt Romney's foreign policy argument against a second term for Obama has been sharp: He says his Democratic rival has made the U.S. less safe by failing to lead on the world stage. Romney has roughed up Obama with a hawkish tone -- at times bordering on belligerent. Yet for all his criticisms of the president, it has been difficult to tell exactly what Romney would do differently."

The Boston Phoenix editors recommend Donald Trump to be Mitt Romney's running mate -- "two tycoons for the price of one." Excellent choice.

Local News

Patrick Marley, et al., of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stayed on the offensive Thursday in his second and final debate with Gov. Scott Walker, focusing on an ongoing secret investigation of Walker aides and divisions within the state since Walker was sworn in 17 months ago."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Stung by a new report showing that the nation’s job market is sputtering, President Obama made a new appeal Friday for Congress to enact measures to revive the economy, not only to shake the United States out of its torpor but to act as a buffer against storm clouds in Europe":

New York Times: "... the Chinese government detained a security official early this year who is suspected of passing information to the United States, a person with knowledge of the case said Friday."

Miami Herald: 'The Justice Department ordered Florida's elections division to halt a systematic effort to find and purge the state's voter rolls of non-citizen voters. Florida's effort appears to violate both the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities, and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act -- which governs voter purges -- T. Christian Herren Jr., the Justice Department's lead civil rights lawyer, wrote in a detailed two-page letter sent late Thursday night. State officials ... indicated they might fight DOJ...."

New York Times: "A Florida judge on Friday revoked the bond of George Zimmerman, who has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, after state prosecutors argued that Mr. Zimmerman, with the help of his wife, had misled the court about his finances."

Bloomberg News: "American employers in May added the fewest workers in a year and the unemployment rate unexpectedly increased as job-seekers re-entered the workforce, further evidence that the labor-market recovery is stalling." ...

... On the Other Hand -- Bloomberg News: "U.S. consumer spending rose in April, a sign that households are supporting the economy as the labor market seeks to gain momentum." ...

... BUT STILL -- Bloomberg News: "U.S. stocks tumbled, erasing the 2012 advance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as employers added the fewest workers in a year, the unemployment rate rose while manufacturing output shrank in Europe and slowed in China." ...

... New York Times story here.

New York Times: "From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program. Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks -- begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games -- even after an element of the program accidentally became public...."

New York Times: "The United States, Turkey and Qatar were among [United Nations] members calling for a special session on Syria in an attempt to increase international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.... Russia, Mr. Assad's key ally, and China have resisted calls in the Security Council for tougher sanctions against Syria."

New York Times: "Ireland on Friday appeared headed toward adoption of the European Union's fiscal compact, but stocks fell and the dollar rose by midday in Europe after data showed unemployment in the euro zone rising to a record." ...

... Washington Post: "European Central Bank President Mario Draghi warned in Brussels on Thursday that he considered the euro zone's current structure 'unsustainable,' and said the region's governments must surrender far more budget and regulatory power to a central authority if the currency union is to be saved."

ABC News: "President Obama will unveil a new initiative today that will, for the first time, allow some U.S. service members to receive civilian credentials and licenses for skills they learn in the military. The effort, announced by the White House late Thursday, is aimed at boosting employment among post-9/11 veterans, some of whom have had difficulty obtaining jobs in high-skill industries because their training is not immediately transferable to the private sector."

Wednesday
May302012

The Commentariat -- May 31, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is on "Ross Douthat -- the Etch-a-Sketch Columnist" -- a work of journalistic excellence inspired by Akhilleus. The NYTX front page is here.

Peter Baker of the New York Times: "Just as strife in the former Yugoslav republic confounded first President George Bush and then his successor, Bill Clinton, the bloody crackdown in Syria -- underscored by last week's massacre of children and other villagers -- has put Mr. Obama in a deeply uncomfortable position."

New York Times Editors: "Mr. Obama ... is a politician, subject to the pressures of re-election. No one in that position should be able to unilaterally order the killing of American citizens or foreigners located far from a battlefield -- depriving Americans of their due-process rights -- without the consent of someone outside his political inner circle.... To provide real assurance, President Obama should publish clear guidelines for targeting to be carried out by nonpoliticians, making assassination truly a last resort, and allow an outside court to review the evidence before placing Americans on a kill list. And it should release the legal briefs upon which the targeted killing was based."

Nicholas Kristof: "Michael Sandel, the Harvard political theorist..., argues that in \recent years we have been slipping without much reflection into relying upon markets in ways that undermine the fairness of our society.... 'The marketization of everything means that people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives,' Sandel writes. 'We live and work and shop and play in different places. Our children go to different schools. You might call it the skyboxification of American life. It's not good for democracy, nor is it a satisfying way to live.'"

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times: "Race is the project of the Roberts court – more than enhancing corporate welfare, more than lowering the barrier between church and state, more than redefining the boundary between state and federal authority." CW: no longer the court of last resort, the U.S. Supreme Court has become instead the last refuge of scoundrels, not to mention a sinecure for a few of those scoundrels.

Charles Pierce has concluded the jurors in the John Edwards trial -- who have come to no conclusion after eight days of deliberation -- don't know what they're doing, for which they can be forgiven inasmuch as almost nobody understands U.S. campaign finance law. "John Edwards ... will go down in political history as a joke and a knave and a hypocrite, even by American political standards."

As part of the White House's summer jobs program, Jimmy Fallon describes his first job. Very inspirational:

Ticks! Gail Collins: "I cannot tell you what a relief it was when I discovered that the multibillion-dollar trading loss at JPMorgan was because of deer." CW: this was my first thought, too.

Mary Carmichael & Stephanie Ebbert of the Boston Globe: "Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren acknowledged for the first time late Wednesday night that she told Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that she was Native American, but she continued to insist that race played no role in her recruitment....While she has said she identified herself as a minority in a legal directory, she has carefully avoided any suggestion during the last month that she took further actions to promote her purported heritage."

Presidential Race

Jennifer Epstein of Politico: "President Obama called Mitt Romney on Wednesday to offer his congratulations to the former Massachusetts governor on securing the Republican presidential nomination after Tuesday night's GOP primary."

Stephen Colbert on Romney's brilliant new campaign tool (watch to the end):

Andy Sullivan of Reuters: "Romney is hammering President Barack Obama for playing favorites with green-tech companies rather than letting businesses succeed or fail on their own.... It's a powerful line of attack....But it might invite unfavorable comparison with Romney's tenure as governor of Massachusetts.... During that time, Romney pursued a hands-on approach to economic development that favored some industries over others and, in some instances, singled out individual firms for special favors.... Sometimes ... Romney's efforts panned out. Other times they did not."

Jed Lewison of Daily Kos on Mitt Romney's brilliant jobs plan: "Mitt Romney on Tuesday morning, tell[s] the people of Craig, Colorado that he wants to put them back to work by firing 145,000 Americans for the simple crime of working in the public sector." Lewison explains why the Romney plan is (a) based on inaccuracies and (b) nonsensical.

Hmmm. Could this be a case of NPD? What's Good for Me Is Bad for Thee. Steve Benen: A Romney camp press release: "Governor Romney Inherited An Economy That Was Losing Jobs Each Month And Left Office With An Economy That Was Adding Jobs Each Month." Benen writes, "... if Romney's to be congratulated for inheriting an economy that was losing jobs and then turning things around, by that identical standard, he ought to be patting Obama on the back for a job well done.... Romney has spent two years arguing that this standard isn't good enough for the president, but apparently it is good enough for himself." CW: See also the Mike Tomasky's post, linked in yesterday's Commentariat, in which Tomasky did the math & found that percentage-wise, Obama has been a better jobs creator than Romney. ...

... Memo from David Axelrod (pdf): "Ten years ago, Mitt Romney told the people of Massachusetts that his experience in business uniquely qualified him to strengthen the state's economy. Foreshadowing the message of his current campaign, Romney presented himself as a 'job creator,' whose experience as a corporate buyout specialist had given him special insight into how to grow the economy.... It was a false representation.... When he left office, however, state debt had increased, the size of government had grown, and over his four years, Massachusetts' record of job creation was among the worst in the nation." ...

... AND now, here's the video:

     ... Amy Gardner of the Washington Post has a brief story on the Obama campaign's new Massachusetts front.

Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly has a nice post on Romney's "big, historic moment..., as Texas officially put him over the 1144 delegates needed to win the GOP presidential nomination. With precision timing, his team unleashed a barrage of attacks on Barack Obama's stewardship of the economy and the federal budget. But at the moment of his triumph, Mitt was in Las Vegas grubbing for money with Donald Trump at Donald Trump's hotel, with Newt Gingrich appearing as a sort of ragged supporting act." ...

... John Sununu, former New Hampshire governor, former Bush Pere Chief of Staff, really does not want to talk about the First Birther:

     ... CW: This kind of attack is what the media can expect when they ask principals of the Romney camp hard questions. Teevee "journalists" should buck up & take the verbal flak. It's nothing compared to what war correspondents endure.

Justin Berrier of Media Matters: "While Fox & Friends has long been a home for some of the most vicious, misleading, petty, and dishonest attacks on President Obama, they crossed a new ethical line [Wednesday] by producing and airing what is essentially a four-minute anti-Obama attack ad. The video -- opening with the text 'Fox & Friends Presents' -- played lines from Obama's past speeches mixed with commentary from unidentified speakers and graphics purporting to show that Obama has broken the promises he's made since his 2008 campaign":

     ... Oliver Willis, also in Media Matters: "The four minute long anti-Obama attack ad presented on Fox & Friends this morning not only crossed the ethical line but it may violate News Corp.'s own internal policy for ethical behavior."

     ... Joe Coscarelli of New York magazine: "The bajillion dollars Republican super-PACs plan to spend to take down Barack Obama does not include compensating Fox News for its services, but maybe it should. On Fox and Friends this morning, the cable news network debuted a four-minute, um, documentary looking back on the last four years of 'hope and change.' Cue foreboding music! Break out the apocalyptic video filters! Prepare for mayhem.... We can't wait to see what they come up with for Mitt Romney!" ...

     ... David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun: "Today's version of the [Fox "News"] morning show featured an anti-Obama video that resembled propaganda films from 1930's Europe more than it did responsible TV politics of today. And the remarkable thing was the witless crew on the couch that serves as hosts for this show had the audacity to present it as journalism and congratulate the producer who put it together." ...

     ... Even winger Ed Morrissey of Hot Air is squeamish: "The video starts with 'Fox and Friends Presents' on the screen, making this an explicit argument from the news channel itself. Should a news organization produce and publish attack ads like this?" ...

     ... Adam Peck of Think Progress: "Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has long defended his network from charges of bias, explaining -- incorrectly -- that only the network's primetime hosts are explicitly partisan."

     ... Guardian Update: "Bill Shine, the executive vice president for programming at Fox News, has released a statement denouncing the video. 'The package that aired on "Fox & Friends" was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network,' Shine said." CW: how ya gonna put that genie back int the bottle, Shiny Bill? ...

     ... Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: Shine's "statement answers one question — whether Fox News is standing by the video -- even as it raises many others." ...

     ... CW Update: Just checked in with Media Matters to see how "Fox & Friends" walked back their "unauthorized" airing of the video "package" on Obama's epic failures. They didn't: "Fox & Friends this morning did not address the widespread criticism of the 4-minute anti-Obama attack video it aired twice on Wednesday."

"How Do You Say Brouhaha in Polish?" Alec MacGillis of The New Republic: "In the case of the upset over President Obama's reference last night to 'Polish death camps,' I'm left with more mystification than dismay, because the uproar of sensible people like David Frum and Michael Tomasky is genuine.... And for this we fly into high dudgeon? Sorry, this is ridiculous." ...

     ... CW: MacGillis makes an important point: he distinguishes between gaffes that inadvertently betray the speaker's real thinking -- "cling to their guns & religion" -- and poor wording or a flubbed line that does not reflect the speaker's thinking -- "Polish death camps." (The poor wording here, BTW, certainly was the work product of a staffer, not of Obama. You have to think that Obama believes Polish people were responsible for the death camps for this to matter. It's ironic that wingers who think Obama is completely dependent upon a teleprompter because he's too dumb to speak for himself now claim Obama's reading the teleprompter speaks to his deepest, darkest hatred of the Polish people.) ..

     ... Here's Frum: "... this administration bungled everything: past, present, and future."

Quirky Economics. Catalina Carnia of USA Today reports that Ron Paul (remember that guy?) puts his money where his mouth is -- an advocate of returning to the gold standard, Paul has much of his net worth tied up in gold and silver mining stocks.

Right Wing World

Dana Milbank: Rep. Trent Frank (RTP-Arizona) brings racism to his anti-abortion crusade -- and not for the first time.

Local News

E. J. Dionne: Gov. Scott Walker (RTP-Wisc.) is being challenged not because he pursued conservative policies but because Wisconsin has become the most glaring example of a new and genuinely alarming approach to politics on the right. It seeks to use incumbency to alter the rules and tilt the legal and electoral playing field decisively toward the interests of those in power.

News Ledes

New York Times: "A federal judge on Thursday ordered Florida to stop enforcing several 'onerous' requirements on voter registration groups that were part of a law passed last year in an effort to tighten election rules.... But Judge Hinkle left most of the 2011 election law intact, a decision that pleased Gov. Rick Scott, who pushed for the changes last year."

Raleigh News & Observer: "The jury in the John Edwards trial on Thursday found the former presidential candidate not guilty on one of six counts in his campaign finance trial and announced it could not agree on the five remaining counts. Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial on the five counts and dismissed the jurors. It was unclear whether the government will seek another trial." New York Times story here.

The Hill: "The House on Thursday rejected a Republican bill that would impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions for the sole purpose of controlling the gender of the child, a practice known as sex-selective abortion. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, was defeated in a 246-168 vote. While that's a clear majority of the House, Republicans called up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass."

The Hill: "Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod was shouted down Thursday at an event in Boston that was staged to attack Mitt Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts. Axelrod called the press conference to hammer home the Obama campaign's critique of Romney's time as governor, and brought along officials from around the state to reinforce the message." With video.

Washington Post: "Former President Bill Clinton has decided to go to Wisconsin to campaign against Scott Walker...."

New York Times: "Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan< of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee. Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a 'payoff' to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was 'false, preposterous and unjust.'" CW: I just checked with Dante Alighieri. Dolan is slated for the 8th circle of hell, which has a special liars ditch.

AP: "A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court. In its unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman discriminates against gay couples because it doesn't give them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples." Boston Globe report here. You can read the court's opinion here.

New York Times: "President Barack Obama is putting increasing pressure on European officials to resolve the euro crisis, talking with the leaders of Germany, France and Italy to help lay the groundwork for action before a Group of 20 summit meeting to be held in June in Mexico. Mr. Obama discussed the recent developments in Europe in video conference calls with the European leaders on Wednesday." ...

... New York Times: "Greece's four largest banks have regained access to normal credit lines from the European Central Bank after they received fresh capital from the European Union, Mario Draghi, the E.C.B. president, said Thursday." ...

Washington Post: "... the Irish go to the polls Thursday in a referendum on a regionwide fiscal treaty inked in January that would impose strict limits on budget deficits and debt. European governments that ratify the treaty will effectively surrender a measure of sovereignty over two of their most sacred economic rights -- how much they can borrow and how much they can spend -- to the bureaucrats in the region's administrative capital of Brussels. The referendum, in many ways, is shaping up as a litmus test of the willingness of Europeans to more deeply link their economic fortunes."

New York Times: "With his career in the balance, Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt told a judicial inquiry into the British media on Thursday that he had been personally sympathetic to a bid by Rupert Murdoch to take over Britain's most lucrative pay-television network but that he did not act with any favorable bias." The Guardian has a liveblog here, which includes a livefeed of the testimony.

Washington Post: "On Wednesday, Judge Catherine Eagles sent home the alternate jurors in the John Edwards case. Among them, the "Lady in Red" who had been flirting with Edwards. "They could still be recalled to replace a regular juror."

Reuters: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and biggest seller of firearms in the United States, is dropping out of a conservative advocacy group in the United States that has been criticized for promoting 'Stand Your Ground' gun laws. Wal-Mart was suspending its membership in the American Legislative Council (ALEC), which the retailer joined in 1993, the company said late on Wednesday."

ABC News: "Eagle Scout Zach Wahls challenged the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy today when he delivered three boxes of petitions demanding change, signed by more than 275,000 people. Wahls, 20, presented the petitions during the Boy Scouts' National Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mom who was removed as the den leader of her 7-year-old son's Cub Scout troop in April because of her sexual orientation.... Wahls is the author of 'My Two Moms' and a video of his three-minute speech before Iowa legislators urging them not to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions went viral in February." CW: if you've never seen Wahls' statement before the Iowa legislators, do watch it. Send it to your friends who may oppose gay marriage. It could change their minds.

Reuters: "Bruce Springsteen touched on a nerve of widespread discontent with the financiers and bankers at a Berlin concert on Wednesday, railing against them as 'greedy thieves' and 'robber barons.'"

ABC News: "The 43rd president and his wife, former First Lady Laura Bush, will be back at their former home for the official unveiling of their portraits, an often uncomfortable presidential tradition.... This time, the gathering will be a family affair. In addition to his wife, Bush will also be joined by his father, former President George H.W. Bush and his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush."

AP: "The SpaceX Dragon capsule left the International Space Station on Thursday and aimed for a Pacific splashdown to end its historic flight."

New York Times: "New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity."

Tuesday
May292012

The Commentariat -- May 30, 2012

My column in today's New York Times eXaminer is a short piece on today's New York Times op-ed entertainment page. Contributor Akhilleus has whetted my appetite for Douthat's "pious baloney," so I may grind out another column later. ...

... The NYTX front page has quite a few critical pieces on President Obama's "kill list." ...

... Glenn Greenwald on President Obama's "normalization of right-wing policies": "Obama ... has converted what were just recently highly divisive and controversial right-wing Assaults on Our Values into fully entrenched bipartisan consensus. But worse than that, he has put a prettier and more palatable face on extremely ugly policies.... That's the Obama legacy. And it's all justified by this definitively warped premise: we have to keep doing things we know will result in large-scale civilian deaths in order to stop the Terrorists, who are really terrible because they keep killing civilians." ...

... Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post: "Across ... southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. After recent U.S. missile strikes, mostly from unmanned aircraft, the Yemeni government and the United States have reported that the attacks killed only suspected al-Qaeda members. But civilians have also died in the attacks, said tribal leaders, victims' relatives and human rights activists."

Roger Lowenstein explains in a Bloomberg News op-ed why hedging is bad for the economy: "The plasticity of modern finance -- the ease with which institutions can transfer risk -- is a major cause of the heightened frequency of meltdowns and increased volatility." Lowenstein's prescription: "Shut down the credit-default swap pits. Let bankers ply their trade without the deceptive safety of hedging." His piece is pretty easy to understand and provides a good description of what hedging is.

CW: I don't fully agree with Gary Younge of the Guardian, who writes about why poor whites vote Republican, but his column contains some nuggets of truth like this one: "It was Bill Clinton who cut welfare, introduced the North American Free Trade Agreement and repealed the Glass-Steagall Act -- which helped make the recent crisis possible. If you were going to trade your religious beliefs for economic gain, you could be forgiven for demanding a better deal than that."

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast: "The press is obsessed with Elizabeth Warren's Cherokee heritage. Too bad it's the biggest media-manufactured story since the Lewinsky scandal nearly brought down a president." ...

... Katharine Seelye of the New York Times on Scott Brown's new "homey...., upbeat..., warm and fuzzy" campaign ad: In typical he-said/she-said journalese, Seelye writes, "The Warren campaign says that the ad is misleading when Mr. Brown says, 'I was the tie-breaking vote on Wall Street reform,' noting that he voted for the bill only after he weakened it to Wall Street’s advantage." CW: I wonder how Willard likes Brown's boasting about his crucial 60th vote for Dodd-Frank; after all, an important element of the Mittster's campaign is his promise to repeal the act:

Charles Pierce on David Brooks' historical tour de farce: "... the primary forces that 'destroyed the balanced government philosophy' gradually over the 20th century did most of their work in the last quarter of it, when the Republican party guzzled snake-oil economics and got drunk and wrecked the place, to the polite applause of, among other people, David Brooks. You gotta love a guy without the guts to defend the policies that made him wealthy while blaming their effects on everyone from Bob LaFollette to Kathleen Sebelius. Actually, you don't have to do that at all."

News from the Greatest Nation on Earth: U.S.A. -- Better than Romania! Pat Garofalo of Think Progress: "According to a new report from the Office of Research at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world. Of the 35 wealthy countries studied by UNICEF, only Romania has a child poverty rate higher than the 23 percent rate in the U.S." CW: That's right -- Romania, the former Iron Curtain country where children were dying of starvation & neglect in state-run orphanages. And Mitt Romney is "not concerned about the very poor."

Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: Louisiana monks who build caskets go to federal court when the state demands they "either give up the casket-selling business or become a licensed funeral establishment, which would require a layout parlor for 30 people, a display area for the coffins, the employment of a licensed funeral director and an embalming room." CW: the story has another ramification, though, as libertarians/conservatives are using it as a vehicle to curtail government regulation. If this case gets to the Supremes & they rule in favor of the monks (as I suspect they will), it may turn out that scads of federal regulations designed to actually protect people will be held unconstitutional because of a law designed by lobbyists for the funeral industry to protect that industry.

Presidential Race

John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "In the next few weeks, we will get important news on several economic fronts. And what we learn will largely determine the shape of the campaign."

Nate Silver: "Economically, Obama is no Jimmy Carter.... The [economic] data this year is [sic.] mediocre, but nowhere near" as terrible as they were in 1980. CW: but the big question here is how the New York Times' statistician can possibly be unaware that the word "data" is plural! Sorry, one of my pet peeves. And let me just add that the media are the message. I just heard the CNN anchor say, "The media is talking about Wolf Blitzer...."

Carolands Chateau, "a 65,000 square foot mansion in Hillsborough, California. Its 75 foot-high atrium holds the record as the largest enclosed space in an American private residence." -- Wikipedia.... NEW. Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: "With Democrats portraying Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch millionaire and 'vulture capitalist' from his years at Bain Capital, the GOP presidential candidate may be handing opponents some ammunition when he holds a fundraiser Wednesday at a 65,000-square-foot estate that's opulent, even for upscale Hillsborough.... [Romney's] fundraiser is co-chaired by billionaire Meg Whitman, his former employee at Bain Capital and the 2010 Republican candidate for California governor who promised to produce 2 million new jobs if elected. Now Whitman is CEO of Hewlett-Packard, which said last week it plans to lay off 25,000 workers."

Backfire! Ashley Parker of the New York Times: "It was supposed to be a day of triumph for Mitt Romney, when he would at last formally claim the Republican presidential nomination with a victory in the Texas primary. And Mr. Romney was to focus attention on an aggressive new attack on President Obama, highlighting the White House's role in backing failed companies like Solyndra. Instead, Tuesday was hijacked by Donald J. Trump. Inexplicably to many in his party, Mr. Romney had scheduled an appearance at a fund-raiser in Las Vegas on Tuesday night with Mr. Trump. And Mr. Trump, ever ready to seize the spotlight and toss rhetorical grenades, played to type in several interviews, repeating his doubts about the president's Hawaiian birth certificate." ...

... Wolf Blitzer & Trump get into it:

     ... CW: Ah, I think I'm beginning to understand that "narcissistic personality disorder" that has been a subject of commentary over the past few days here.

Mark Hosenball of Reuters: "Yes, Republican Mitt Romney appears eligible to be president, according to a copy of Romney's birth certificate released to Reuters by his campaign. Willard Mitt Romney, the certificate says, was born in Detroit on March 12, 1947. His mother, Lenore, was born in Utah and his father, former Michigan governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate George Romney, was born in Mexico. So on a day when real estate and media mogul Donald Trump was trying to help Mitt Romney by stirring up a new round of questions about whether Democratic President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Romney's own birth record became a reminder that in the 1968 presidential campaign, his father had faced his own 'birther' controversy." CW: the Reuters story reproduces the copy of Willard's birth certificate the campaign provided to the news service. It was issued in 2012. Very suspicious. What with his excellent knowledge of French & his father's company American Motors having built so many vehicles in Canada, I'm beginning to suspect Willard is actually a Canadian. Somebody get the Donald on the case. ...

... CW: sure wonder why Romney released his birth certificate at the same time he is appearing with Trump & the Donald is upping his birther rhetoric. Could Romney, who says Obama is a "natural-born" American, possibly be catering to his birther constituency? Nah, never.

Mike Allen of Politico: "Mitt Romney's campaign events and the firepower of American Crossroads will both focus this week on President Barack Obama's jobs record as a way to fight off charges about the Republican candidate's private-sector experience, with a Romney aide attacking the stimulus as 'the mother of all earmarks.'" ...

... Greg Sargent: "The Romney camp's claim is that we can calculate that the stimulus destroyed jobs overall with a metric that factors in all the jobs destroyed before the stimulus took effect. That's not an exaggeration. It really is the Romney campaign's position. It's time to ask Romney himself to justify it." ...

Zach Roth of NBC News: "... even if you set that issue aside, the attack still doesn't hold up. It's impossible to say definitively exactly how many jobs a piece of legislation ... created or subtracted -- and the Romney campaign's claim is designed to take advantage of that uncertainty. But there have in fact been numerous studies of the issue, and by surveying the best of them, we can get reasonably close to an answer.... Rather than simply reporting Team Romney's charge and the Obama campaign's response, reporters should be ready to say clearly that the claim that the stimulus subtracted jobs is belied by the evidence." ...

... Ed Kilgore of Washington Monthly: "It's beginning to become apparent that Team Mitt will throw vast amounts of chum into the water to avoid the fundamental reality that its candidate's own Economic Plan is basically deregulation plus the Ryan Budget. Perhaps if Romney is going to traipse around the country mocking individual federally-funded projects, someone should follow him around pointing out what the Ryan Budget would do to the same locales. It would not look pretty." ...

... Jamelle Bouie of American Prospect: "... if there's anything remarkable about the Romney campaign, it's the extent to which the core arguments for his candidacy are either false or impossible to substantiate. The claim that Obama is responsible for net job loss? False. The claim that Obama has gone on an unprecedented spending spree? False. And the claim that Romney created 100,000 jobs at Bain Capital? Impossible to prove." ...

... ** Mike Tomasky: "by Bartels’s rules [the first year doesn't count], Obama has created a net 3.635 million jobs. Applying the same rules to Romney's numbers [in Massachusetts] through the same time period ... we credit Romney with 64,500 jobs. So he grew jobs by 1.9 percent [in a state with an excellent level of education]. Obama's job-growth rate is 2.35 percent.... Romney clearly can make no claim whatsoever that he has access to some magic tonic that grows jobs. Combining his record as governor with the plans he insists he;ll inflict on us as president -- gargantuan tax cuts for the rich, a gaping deficit, severe cuts to all manner of government investment in research and innovation and environmental protection ... adds up to a lurid scenario of a society becoming both more unequal and more stagnant, and a picture of a man who seemingly cannot under any circumstance utter an unfalse word about himself." ...

... NEW. Jake Tapper & Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "The Obama campaign is opening a new front in its war against GOP rival Mitt Romney, ABC News has learned, with planned attacks to begin this week on Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts and the campaign promises Democrats say he left unfulfilled."

The Democratic National Committee puts it all together:

The teachers unions are the clearest example of a group that has lost its way. Whenever anyone dares to offer a new idea, the unions protest the loudest. Their attitude was memorably expressed by a longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers: He said, quote, 'When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of children. -- Mitt Romney , in an education speech at the Latino Coalition's Annual Economic Summit in Washington, D.C, May 23, 2012

Josh Hicks of the Washington Post: "... the evidence suggests that the quote didn't come from Shanker and that someone with an agenda probably twisted his words.... The claim relies exclusively on biased sources that never attributed the union leader's remark to a particular time or event...."

Julie Beck of the Hairpin: Many of the subject lines in the Obama campaign's e-mails sound as if they were written by a stalker. Via of Adam Sorensen of Time

Right Wing World

Yoni Brenner of GQ: "These are hard times for birthers.... But salvation awaits! David Maraniss's exhaustive biography, Barack Obama: The Story, stretching from before his birth to the start of his political career, is out this month -- and sure to inspire a new wave of conspiracy theories about our Kenyan Muslim commie in chief. We put on our tinfoil hat to predict the paranoias to come."

Local News

Monica Davey of the New York Times: "Gov. Scott Walker ... raised more than $5 million in the last month alone, his campaign announced on Tuesday, a day when new fund-raising reports have to be filed to state officials. That brings Mr. Walker's total fund-raising since the start of 2011 to more than $30 million...." ...

... Perjury! Greg Sargent: "... video recently surfaced of a private conversation between [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker and a Wisconsin billionaire, in which Walker vowed a 'divide and conquer' strategy against unions, as his 'first step.' Now ... Dem Reps. Elijah Cummings, Gerry Connolly, and Chris Murphy ... are pointing out that the 'divide and conquer' quote seems to contradict testimony Walker gave before their committee in August of 2011.... In that testimony, Rep. Connolly asked Walker whether he had even had any conversation in which he had alluded to his 'actions in Wisconsin and using them to punish members of the opposition party and their donor base.' Walker's response: 'No.' 'Do you now wish to withdraw your sworn testimony?' the three Dem members have asked Walker in a letter." ...

... Greg Sargent: "A new poll taken by pollster Celinda Lake — who is a Democrat but is well respected by polling professionals -- has found that the battle between Scott Walker and challenger Tom Barrett is now deadlocked, at 49 percent each."

News Ledes

New York Times: "United Nations cease-fire monitors, still grappling with the massacre of more than 100 villagers in western Syria over the weekend, which ignited world outrage, reported a new atrocity on Wednesday, saying 13 people had been discovered shot to death execution-style in eastern Syria, with hands bound behind their backs. Antigovernment activists said the victims, found Tuesday night in the Assukar area of Deir Ezzor Province, were electricity workers who had refused to end a protest strike."

AP: "Jerry Sandusky lost another bid to delay his child sexual abuse trial on Wednesday and, in what could be the last pretrial hearing before jury selection begins next week, the presiding judge heard defense lawyers and prosecutors debate whether charges should be thrown out."

TMZ: "Jim Paratore -- the man who founded TMZ and created a slew of hit shows including 'Ellen' and 'Rosie' -- died of an apparent heart attack Tuesday during a bike trip in France."

AP: "Judges at an international war crimes court sentenced former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison Wednesday, saying he was responsible for 'some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history.' The 64-year-old warlord-turned-president is the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II and judges said they had no precedent when deciding his sentence."

AP: "Britain's Supreme Court has endorsed the extradition of WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange to Sweden, an important turning point in the Internet activist's controversial career.... The U.K. end of that struggle appeared to come to a messy conclusion Wednesday, with the nation's highest court ruling five to two that the warrant seeking his arrest was properly issued...." The Guardian has live coverage here.

Guardian: "Andy Coulson, David Cameron's former director of communications, has been detained by police investigating alleged perjury at the trial of the Scottish socialist politician Tommy Sheridan." CW: Coulson is also implicated -- & has implicated Cameron -- in the Rupert Murdoch News Corp. scandal.